• On day 1 of the 14th GST Council meet in Srinagar, the centre and the states decided to keep 81% of a total of 1,211 items at the modal tax rate of 18% or below. To this end, the council also decided to keep food grains like wheat, rice and pulses zero-rated under the new tax regime. Commodities like edible oil, tea, coffee and sugar are also likely to cost less as the proposed 5% tax rate is either lower than the existing taxes in most places or is same as the currently levied value added tax.

  • Plagued by repeated derailments, the railways is considering imposing safety cess on train tickets to be utilised for strengthening accident prevention measures. The move will help railways generate additional revenue of Rs. 5,000 crore which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said would be used as safety funds for which the passengers will have to contribute. However, no official decision has been taken thus far.

  • India’s largest private general insurer ICICI Lombard has begun preparing for an Initial Public Offer of equity, the first such by a private general insurer. The IPO will enable the 2 shareholders in ICICI Lombard, ICICI Bank and Canada-based Fairfax Financial Holdings to monetise their holdings. Fairfax, with 35 per cent in the venture, could divest its stake. The project is expected to be between Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 4,500 crore.

  • Heavy discounting to get rid of BS III motorcycle stocks and the impact of demonetisation has hit Bajaj Auto’s domestic volumes hard. Its exports also suffered due to turmoil in the international markets leading to a drop in both stand-alone and consolidate profits during 4th quarter of the financial year 2016-17. The company reported a 13.44 % fall in consolidated net profits to Rs 862.25 crore.

  • Swedish home furnishing retailer IKEA on Thursday said the company is investing around Rs. 1,000 crore for opening its second store in Navi Mumbai that is expected to be operational by 2019. The company’s first store in the country will be opened in Hyderabad and is expected to be operational by 2018. The furniture retailer will have 25 stores operational in the country by 2025.